It’s high time I adress this topic that sparks more conversation than just about any other (food related) topic: dairy!
I have a very strong opinion about dairy, which is probably also why a lot of people in my personal life have begun reconsidering their consumption of something they grew up with. Something they never second-guessed before. I have some friends who have recently started omitting dairy for health reasons and from what I’ve gathered they are quite pleased with the results. One of my relatives is experimenting with consuming less dairy for her skin. My mom and brother have replaced milk with soymilk for skin & menopausal symptom improvement. But the biggest shocker? Even the boy made the resolution last week to go without dairy for some weeks to see if it affects how he feels. FYI: he’s a big dairy consumer and up until some weeks ago was a firm believer dairy is a health food, and necessary for human consumption.
No matter what the outcome will be, I love that so many people are starting to at least be more conscious of what they put in their bodies, and why!
In my opinion, dairy is one of the most unnatural food products in the world, up there with chemical sweeteners, candy, etc. Maybe you’ve heard it before, maybe you haven’t: we are the only animals in the world that consume the breastmilk of other animals. We are also the only animal on this planet who consume breastmilk after the appropriate age of, say, 2 years.
For those that believe milk and cheese are natural, wholesome products, think again. Milk (and all it’s derivatives: cheese, cream, ice-cream, whipped cream, etc) is pasteurized and homogenized. In other words, highly processed. Most dairy products nowadays are also stripped of their fats, adding one more processing step. Think about it: when’s the last time you drank raw, organic, full fat milk? The answer: when you were suckling your mothers breast…
Even though I am not a big fan of eating meat, I loathe the consumption of dairy even more. Meat can, theoretically, at least be somewhat natural. Humans are meant to eat meat (in very small amounts and not the processed meats we eat today, but I’ll save that for some other time!), but we are definitely not meant to consume dairy. Modern society ‘evolved’ this way because it is a cheap and easy way to get in loads of protein and fats. As you can understand, our modern society needs everything but excess proteins and fats…
Milk contains too much protein, fat and phosphorus (acidic) for human consumption, and is void of practically all other vitamins and minerals. The only nutrient (besides calcium) milk contains in a somewhat decent amount is B2: one 150 ml glass contains little under 25% DRI. In comparison: mushrooms contain 45% for half the calories! Other excellent B2 sources: tempeh, spinach, asparagus, Romaine, green peas, soy beans and almonds. My point: there’s really no point in drinking milk.
OMFG: calcium ?
Big studies have discovered links between dairy consumption and osteoporosis and diabetes type 2. They found that the societies with the highest dairy intakes (US, Finland) had the highest incidence of osteoporosis (weak bones disease) and diabates type 2. Conversely, the society with the lowest dairy intake (Japan) had the lowest incidence of these diseases, and less hip fractures (due to brittle bones).
Obviously, dairy is not as good for our bones (and teeth!) as some people claim it to be. Yes, dairy is very high in calcium, but strong bones and teeth are not just a matter of sufficient calcium consumption. Bones and teeth depend on a good calcium balance, which is the sum of consumption, absorption & excretion. For example: exercising and some sun (vitamin D) greatly increase your absorption of calcium, thus enhancing your calcium balance. Sodium and coffee inhibit calcium absorption. Blood that is too acidic, for example from eating too many acidic foods (soda, meat, refined flour and sugar, alcohol, etc), will leach calcium from your bones and teeth because calcium is highly alkaline, and works as a buffer for the acidity of the blood. This calcium is excreted afterwards, creating a negative calcium balance. Dairy itself is fairly neutral: the animal proteins are very acidic, the calcium neutralizes it. So all in all, dairy products, even though high in calcium, don’t greatly contribute to your calcium balance.
If you, like many other people, are under the assumption dairy is not that a big a deal, I beg to differ. Just because dairy cows don’t end up as a steak on your plate, doesn’t mean these animals were treated like, well, animals. Dairy cows are treated like products, maybe even more so than meat cows. Also get rid of that utopian though that dairy cows, once they become too old, get shipped off to a nice farm where they can spend their old days with grace. Once a dairy cows loses ‘productivity’, she gets killed, just like the cows for meat production (or, bulls). Basically, dairy cows are worse off than meat cows! They are kept alive in abismal circumstances for much longer than bulls and get killed in the end anyway. So please, if you consider meat to be murder, or at least cruel, know that dairy is just as cruel, if not more….
Even though humans have grown accustomed to drinking milk, eating cheese and consuming tons of other products with hidden dairy, our physiology hasn’t caught up yet! Cow’s milk is the number one allergy in the world and to top it all of, as much as 75% of the world population is lactose intolerant, meaning you have a hard time digestion the lactose in dairy (note: this number includes Asians & blacks which have a higher incidence of lactose intolerance than Caucasians but still, the number is frightingly high!).
Wat does this mean for our health? Sadly, a plethora of health problems; skin problems; acne, rashes, eczema; weakened immune system, frequent or chronic colds/flu’s, digestive problems; painful stomach, gas, bloating; joint inflammation (especially bad for those suffering from reumathoid arthritis), migraines, osteoporosis.
Then how is it dairy can be perveyed as such a health food? One word: marketing. The dairy industry is not some small cutesy organisation that tries to make the world a better place. The dairy industry is an enormous, powerful, wealthy and profit-driven organisation that tries to make… profit. At any expense. Take for example the huge ad campaigns for dairy starring all kinds of (random) celebrities. Got Milk? Got propaganda! If dairy was an honest to God health food, it needn’t million dollar ad campaigns. It needn’t to lobby the government and give ‘educational’ materials to lower & middle schools to ‘teach’ kids about the ‘health’ benefits of dairy. The dairy industry has got money, and therefore power, and has a foot between every door: the government, dieticians, researchers, schools.
Off topic: hubba hubba! (the tats that is…)
For me, personally, I figured out (once I kicked the dairy habit) that dairy was the #1 cause of my troubled skin, it caused stomach problems (bloating and stomach/bowel problems) and chronic nasel congestion. Once I went vegan my skin went from acne-like to pretty much spotless and my colds reduced dramtically (until I got Isa, haha). It’s not like I never experience any digestion problems or bloating anymore, but it’s definitely decreased.
This is not to say everyone will experience the same, but it does go to show it’s worth a shot! I never linked any of my issues to dairy either, until I quit. My advise is that if you suffer from any of the health problems mentioned above, or you have another reason to suspect dairy might not be doing your body good, cut out dairy for at least 4, but rather 6 weeks. Write a short recap after every week to see if there’s improvement in any of your conditions. If by the end of 4-6 weeks you are satisfied with the results, then keep it up! If not, then dairy might indeed not be the root of your ailments (but as shown in this post, there’s more reasons than current health problems to quit the dairy!).
Sorry for this rather long winded post, but it’s a post I have been meaning to write for a long time now and as you can tell, a topic I am very passionate about! I feel dairy is such an underrated yet serious problem, much as with fish (I will write a post on this soon too). So little people realize and fully understand what dairy is, where it comes from, what cruelty hides behind this practise. I am very happy to see awareness in people grow about meat, yet dairy is falling behind dramatically .
Do you consume dairy? Have you ever stood still at the implications? Do you think some of your ailments could be ascribed to dairy? Are you willing to challenge yourself and consume no (or less) dairy for 4 weeks to see what happens?!
Thanks for reading!
PS: please share this post to spread the message!
PPS: bonus points for whom got the reference in the title! Katie & Carrie, I’m counting on you